The French philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard's ideas are often called upon when matters of simulation come into discussion. When asked what new technology could potentially offer us, he suggests that new media isn't that new:
"I don't know much about this subject. I haven't gone beyond the fax and the automatic answering machine. I have a very hard time getting down to work on the screen because all I see there is a text in the form of an image which I have a hard time entering. With my typewriter, the text is at a distance; it is visible and I can work with it. With the screen, it's different; one has to be inside; it is possible to play with it but only if one is on the other side, and immerses oneself in it. That scares me a little, and Cyberspace is not of great use to me personally."
This raises an interesting question regarding technological topography: at what point does a user stop interacting via mediation and begin interacting "directly" with an environment?
Is a paramedic directly working on a patient? Their interactions in the 21st century are mediated by latex gloves, surely they aren't directly interacting with any patients. This is just another example of a technological mediation.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines technology as follows:
technology |tɛkˈnɒlədʒi|noun ( pl. -gies)the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, esp. in industry : advances in computer technology | recycling technologies.• machinery and equipment developed from such scientific knowledge.• the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences.
Surely even the paramedic is using technology already to interact in every way during his/her job. The difference between my paramedic example and interacting with a different space, such as cyberspace, is that the paramedic interacts seamlessly with his environment. (although arguably the same feelings happen in virtual reality)
The virtual experiences as perceived by the characters in the words of Surrogates (2009) or Caprica (2009) is indistinguishable by its users from real existence. While we have nothing that equates to "sensory input" in our virtual realities at this point in history, it may not be too far off. We are already designing devices which are activated by our thoughts alone. It probably isn't much longer before fully developed sensory feedback equipment becomes common place in our daily interactions with the world.